October 15, 2019

They Said It Couldn’t Be Done

They said it couldn’t be done—well, a few friends and blood relatives expressed skepticism about my intention to spend two monastic months writing in Bridgehampton. But until the last day of February I hadn’t once moved more than a few miles from my desk. Last Wednesday I finished off Chapter 21 before heading in to the city for Nicole and Kim’s anniversary dinner at Indochine, which was a thorough re-immersion into the Manhattan high life. I then flew to Chicago to eat (twice) at Charlie Trotter’s before this great chef retires. Also eating one night at Ria, chef Danny Grant’s place, which recently got two stars from Michelin. And I even managed to eat at least one Chicago-style dog.

I wish there was a word to denote a period of work sequestration (in the sense of “the act of isolating a jury during a trial”) but I can’t think of one—sabbatical isn’t quite it. At any rate, it’s over, and I’m ready for it to be over. I’ve been getting stir crazy, and I’m starting to resent the long days and the stiff neck to the extent that I was actually happy to go the dentist last Tuesday. Jesus. Time to move. Two months seems to be about right, for me.

In terms of word count I’ve exceeded my goals, but I’m way too close at this point to begin to make any guess about whether this novel is really on the right track and as good as I want it to be. I could realize six months from now that it sucks. But I don’t think so. That happened to me last time and it’s a shitty feeling—realizing that a book you wrote doesn’t measure up to your standards. Although I think I may eventually return to that last manuscript, which started out life with the title “Tides and Currents.”

This past month, in an effort to feel less isolated from the world I watched not only the Super Bowl but also the Oscars, and I was appalled, though not necessarily surprised, that “Midnight in Paris” won best screenplay. Let me just cite one example of it’s cartoonish view of the great American Modernists: Fitzgerald has Jay Gatsby use the expression “old sport” as a way of pointing out that he’s kind of a clueless parvenu. When Woody Allen puts that phrase in Fitzgerald’s mouth he would seem to be suggesting the same about the author of The Great Gatsby. I don’t think that’s what he intends to do but if he does—fuck him.

See you back in the world.

— Jay